When Rhapsody of the Seas departs Sydney tomorrow for the last time this season, she officially ends the Australian summer cruise season. It has been another impressive season for RCL Cruises Ltd with its two brands Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International hosting a record 190,000 guests – 12 per cent more than last season. Plus, both cruise brands celebrated milestones including Celebrity Solstice’s fifth birthday and Royal Caribbean launched the world’s first Instagram Film Festival.
Together, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are proud to offer the biggest, most innovative and some of the highest rated ships in Australia. This season the local fleet featured five ships: Radiance of the Seas,Rhapsody of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas along with Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium. These ships sailed a total of 73 cruises, including a total of 59 turnarounds in Sydney Harbour.
Gavin Smith, Regional Vice President, Asia-Pacific for RCL Cruises Ltd says the increase in both local and international travellers continues to fuel rapid growth of the cruise market. “Since introducing two of the largest and most luxurious ships ever to be based in Australia last season, we have seen increased demand from Australian and international guests who see cruising as an exciting and hassle-free way to explore the region. On a cruise, passengers are able to see more attractions and scenery than any other form of transport can offer. Plus there’s so much to do on board such as superb food and wine, Broadway style entertainment, stunning facilities and luxurious day spa treatments,” Smith said.
- Royal Caribbean hosted the world’s first Instagram Film Festival which culminated in a grand finale event onboardVoyager of the Seas. The creator of the winning wow moment has won a spot on one of the first cruises on the brand new ship Quantum of the Seas later this year.
- VIP guests celebrated the fifth birthday of Celebrity Solstice with a cocktail reception at the Lawn Club overlooking the Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
- Voyager of the Seas was welcomed by locals for her maiden calls in Brisbane and Darwin.
- Rhapsody of the Seas called in the new port of Mare in the Loyalty Islands for the very first time.
- · Celebrity Solstice sailed to the South Pacific islands for the first time, offering a new standard of modern luxury cruising to the region. She made maiden calls at Lautoka and Suva in Fiji, Lifou in the Loyalty Islands and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia.
- Celebrity Solstice made her maiden call in Newcastle and was welcomed with an official gun salute at Fort Scratchley.
- Celebrity Solstice made her maiden call in the beautiful New Zealand port of Napier.
- Voyager of the Seas met up with Celebrity Solstice in the ports of Wellington and Tauranga in New Zealand, temporarily increasing local populations by over 8,000 people!
- A popular 15-night New Year cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas uniquely combined ports in Queensland and the South Pacific islands for the first time.
- The RCL Cruises Ltd Sales Team hosted over 7,000 agents and clients onboard in locations across Australia and New Zealand – including walk arounds and hosted famil trips.
“Bookings for this season showed the continued popularity of multigenerational cruising – kids, parents and grandparents travelling together – particularly on South Pacific itineraries. We’ve also found that more people are turning to cruising as a way of seeing their own country with more Aussies opting for Tasmanian, Queensland or Round Australia cruises and of course these itineraries remain popular with overseas guests,” said Smith.
Australians and New Zealanders made up 75 per cent of all guests sailing on the two cruise lines over summer. Overseas guests came from 134 countries – including some unexpected nations like Ethiopia and Uzbekistan.Celebrity Solstice was particularly popular internationally, with over half of its guests coming from overseas.
“This is one of the unique selling points of our ships in this region; we offer a very international cruise experience in which Aussies and Kiwis will holiday alongside a diverse mix of interesting nationalities,” said Smith. “It creates a fantastic, cosmopolitan atmosphere onboard.”
Looking ahead to the 2014-15 Australia/ New Zealand Season
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity will be back for another big summer in September with 5 world class ships:
- Rhapsody of the Seas arrives in Sydney 3 October 2014
- Celebrity Century arrives in Sydney 10 October 2014
- Radiance of the Seas arrives in Sydney 11 October 2014
- Celebrity Solstice arrives in Sydney 23 October 2014
- Voyager of the Seas arrives in Sydney 8 December 2014 – fresh from a $75 million refurbishment
According to Smith, “Booking momentum is solid for both cruise lines – and prices are increasing – this is the perfect time to book for next summer, with cruises available from under AU$1,000 per person for seven nights.”
A new addition to the Local Fleet
Next season will be the historic farewell season for Celebrity Century before she leaves the Celebrity Cruises fleet in April 2015. Celebrity Cruises will be holding special events across the next 12 months as part of the “Celebration of the Century”. The 1,800-guest Celebrity Century will arrive in Australasia on Friday 10th October 2014 after crossing the Pacific. Her three-month Australian season will feature 11 sailings, ranging from seven to 23 nights in duration, including the cruise line’s first ever sailing to combine Tropical Queensland with the South Pacific islands, and brand new Australian itineraries such as an eight-night South Australian cruise.
Globally, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are enjoying a period of rapid expansion. The launch of the ground breaking Quantum Class ships is imminent. Quantum of the Seas – which will be based in New York and Shanghai – will include game changing “firsts at seas” such as a sky diving experience, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at seas complete with bumper cars, and the introduction of Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s first restaurant at sea. The addition of Jamie’s Italian reflects the company’s new vision of dining at sea with a wider choice of main dining room and specialty restaurants.
A Cruise for Everyone
Gavin Smith emphasises that with the expansion of the local cruising fleet, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises can offer a cruise to suit all ages and tastes. Royal Caribbean ships, such as Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas (coming to Australia in the 2015-16 season) cater for the family market with innovative attractions such as rock climbing and ice skating at sea; while Celebrity Cruises has a particular focus on fine food and wine, with specialty restaurants on board, such as Celebrity Solstice’s Murano, Blu, and Tuscan Grille where guests can experience exquisite fine dining for a moderate surcharge.
RCL Cruises Ltd will open the 2014/15 summer season with a 17-night cruise from Hawaii to Sydney via French Polynesia, departing Honolulu on 5 October, 2014 aboard Celebrity Solstice.
“Based on the momentum of bookings, we are expecting that this season we will see a significant increase in families trying out cruising for their summer holidays. Though staterooms have been steadily booking out, families who are looking for their first cruise experience can still book a South Pacific cruise holiday for four people from as little as AU$160 per day,” said Smith.
RCL Cruises Ltd Australia commenced operation in December 2008 as the Australian arm of global cruise holiday company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The company offers three cruise brands in Australia & New Zealand: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. In the 2013-14 cruise season, Royal Caribbean International was the largest cruise operator in Sydney, with three ships sailing in the region: Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. This is in addition to two Celebrity Cruises ships, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium. For the 2014-15 cruise season RCL Cruises Ltd looks forward to welcoming Celebrity Century back to the region. In the 2015-16 cruise season the fleet will feature the region’s two biggest megaliners Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, the ever popular Radiance of the Seas and the region’s highest rated cruise ship Celebrity Solstice (according to Berlitz Guide 2014).
Source: RCL Cruises